EMA approves Gwanda solar plant project

Source: EMA approves Gwanda solar plant project | The Herald June 1, 2017

Business Reporter
CIVIL works for the construction of the 100 megawatt Gwanda solar plant are set to commence after the Environmental Management Authority issued an Environmental Impact Assessment certificate for the project.

According to EMA, the certificate gives Zimbabwe Power Company permission to carry out the project in terms of Section 11 of the Environmental Management Act, which states terms and conditions for such projects.

The certificate, under licence number 8000017541, was issued by EMA environmental officer, Mr Timothy Dandawa last month, and paves the way for beginning of civil works on the plant site at Judd’s Farm.

“(ZPC) is permitted to operate in accordance with part XI of the environmental management Act Chapter 20:27, under specified terms and conditions,” reads an excerpt from the EMA certificate.

Secretary for Energy and Power Development Partson Mbiriri recently said that the civil works for the Gwanda solar power station were likely to commence before the end of this year, particularly the third quarter of the year.

ZPC, through a tender process conducted by the State Procurement Board, last year awarded the contract for the Gwanda solar plant to a Chinese firm at a cost of $202 million. It also awarded two more projects to foreign firms for construction of solar plants in Bulawayo and Munyati.

ZPC’s Gwanda solar plant will be constructed by billion-dollar asset firm, Shanghai Stock Exchange listed CHiNT Electric Co Ltd and its local partner. Mr Mbiriri said that despite the negative publicity around the Gwanda solar project, it was far ahead of the other two — Insukamini in Bulawayo and Munyati.

Last year, he said it was not possible to reverse the projects as the period allowed for cancellations of tenders, at law, had lapsed. The 21-day period for cancellation of tenders over irregularities, as provided for in the State Procurement Board, passed without objections lodged. There were calls for reversal of the Gwanda project over lack of progress.

Mr Mbiriri said last year that multimillion dollar tender projects always courted controversy across the world and in Zimbabwe two firms actually resorted to the courts of law to resolve their differences over a ZPC tender.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa this year accorded prescribed asset status to the Gwanda solar project to facilitate mobilisation of funding for the implementation of the power project. For the same reason he also conferred the project with liquid asset status.

The power projects being undertaken by ZPC fall into its broad strategies to increase domestic power generation to close Zimbabwe’s deficit. Local generation currently stands at just over 1 000MW, against demand at peak periods of 1 400MW. The deficit is met from regional imports.